The Freedom Garden

| 1/8/2009 8:24:18 AM



The place of the American garden, at least inasmuch as it has become a societal movement from time to time in our history, was outlined beautifully by GRIT editor Hank Will in his blog post on how gardening is good for the soul. The point as I saw it, of the article, was that there is just something about being able to get our hands into the soil and to coax from it a thing as tangible and basic to life as healthy, nutritious food for very little cost, that is good for our soul. I couldn’t agree more! As he outlined our recent history of war gardens, victory gardens and urban collective gardens I found myself thinking that this has been a phenomenon that has largely come about since the time of the industrial revolution when we, as a nation, began to separate ourselves from our agrarian roots. It was natural then, when wars or depression or economic necessity dictated it, that we would gravitate toward something that could bring us together and provide us comfort. Being able to feed ourselves and being able to bless others with food can do this like few other things.


Hank made the statement, in his previous post, that he didn’t “know what to call the new wave of gardening frenzy, but [does] know that it is exciting, and will, no doubt, play a role in healing our culture.” To this I replied “Freedom Gardens” and it has sparked a great conversation I think. He’s asked that I give a little background on how this name for a movement came about so I’ll do my best.

Let me give you a little background. In my first post here at GRIT, I talked about how I had had an awakening within myself. When I realized that, while I was depressed about not being able to drop everything and move to  the country and have myself a farm, I was squandering the land that I already had right in my backyard. That epiphany changed the whole way I looked at gardening. My mind had been limited to growing a garden as merely a hobby, while the “real” farming required having acres of land and tractors and so on. The ability to look at my own small .25 acre suburban lot as an urban farm of sorts came about quite by accident when I stumbled onto the website of the Dervaes family in Pasadena CA called Path to Freedom. There I found the story of a family that not only gardened on their tenth of an acre lot in the heart of Pasadena (hardly the country) but was actively supporting themselves through their efforts both physically, in that they largely ate from their garden, and financially in that they had a thriving niche market selling their excess to local markets and chefs. That’s right, excess food from a 10th of an acre lot. It’s not unimaginable when you consider that they regularly average over 6000 lbs of food from that same 10th of an acre.

2/17/2009 8:38:19 PM

I'm very grateful to find your site. I have been looking for some info. on raised bed's, However I'm wanting to just use the sacks of planting soil cutting them open and planting. It sound's lazy I know but I am 72 years old with health prob. I just want to have good food and know it's safe. I feel those goose bumps Hank, It takes me back to when people used there ingenuity and truly cared for one another. Thanks Jean

Cindy Murphy
1/9/2009 8:19:38 AM

Cool beans, Paul. (bad pun intended) Interesting article as well as is Hank's "Gardening is Good for the Soul". Both of your enthusiasm the subject is contagious. I'm looking forward to learning more as you continue your "Path to Freedom" gardening.

Paul Gardener
1/8/2009 2:56:55 PM

Glad you enjoyed it Hank. I can get a bit preachy at times, but only because it's something I'm so passionate about. I'm looking forward to some of your upcoming posts also. P~

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